Commercial Awareness

The Highs and Lows of LegalTech.

In this article, commercial awareness analyst Jutha Cheewat discusses the challenges and potential that Legal Technology brings to both lawyers and their clients.

This article briefly explores the challenge and potential legal technology brings, by looking at how legal tech is developed and employed to enhance lawyers' and clients' experience.

A wide range of legal technology is currently available and used in the profession. However, many focus on products with a higher level of potential disruption. When it comes to legal technology that can help with the day-to-day legal and administrative tasks, many law firms choose to or have already incorporated various information management technologies developed externally by suppliers, from efficient cloud systems to manage data to increasing transparency with billing and tracking software.

Exacerbated by the pandemic, legal tech is no longer avoidable as such products have proven records of how they can help lawyers ease the workload and reduce the time spent on documentation-related work, like electronic signature and voting management software. The question now is not whether to use them but rather in which way or what kind of products will yield the desirable results.

According to the Financial Times, legal tech developers are now focusing on trying to integrate generative artificial intelligence into their products. Eleanor Lightbody, Chief Executive of Luminance, a UK-based legal tech company, emphasised how such development can change the legal landscape and disrupt how the industry traditionally operates. For example, PwC was reported to have entered into a deal with Harvey, a venture funded by Open AI. Such a development raises many regulatory concerns, one of which was demonstrated by a case where a New York attorney cited a ruling falsely generated by Chat GPT, resulting in a sanction order.

On the one hand, it is clear that generative AI has abundant potential, particularly in dealing with laborious tasks like spotting errors or comparing contracts or for due diligence and compliance matters, affecting how lawyers prioritise their tasks and, hence, justify matters including billing hours, especially at a more junior end of the spectrum.

On the other hand, many law firms are strategically utilising AI not only to enhance the internal running of their businesses but also to create innovative and cost-effective long-term solutions to seamlessly serve their clients at different stages of the legal process. For example, KennedyIQ was launched with the objective to achieve "Kennedys, without the lawyers". Among many products, their in-house legal innovation team developed software to help insurance clients determine the strength of their initial claims, combining legal expertise with machine learning. The platform is unique not only in its development but also in its purpose. The firm emphasised a transformative opportunity, not to replace the work of lawyers with AI, but to empower clients to access reliable and cost-effective know-how with a timely solution while allowing the lawyers to optimise their workflow with powerful and robust technology, a positive take on the matter.