Future gazing for the legal industry


Future gazing has always been important in the technology, media and communications (TMC) sector, and now it has reached legal services too. In the 2000s, the rise of the internet and the rapid success of e-commerce boosted almost every industry worldwide. By now, every company has to be a tech company in order to remain successful. This applies not only to the companies but to legal professionals as well.

Dóra Petrányi, Partner, CEE Managing  Director,  Head of TMC

Márton Domokos, Senior Counsel,  TMC

The law of the future and the future of law 

It all started with TMC lawyers having to build on existing regulations when supporting innovation. This is why we always loved this practice – you had a chance to contribute to forming the law of the future.

Now it is time for legal professionals to develop the future of the law: to focus on developing, deploying, and investing in new technologies and processes to transform their practice, in order to address clients’ increased expectations in quality and responsiveness in all legal areas. 

For example, advanced machine-learning and data visualization technologies are faster and more accurate than human review. Their use allows legal departments to make better use of their resources by replacing lengthy physical document discovery processes and unstructured data analysis. The speed and efficiency of document review enable assessing critical information more quickly, and facilitate early and better-informed decision making in dispute resolutions, for instance. JPMorgan’s contract intelligence program is consuming approximately 360,000 hours of work each year by interpreting commercial-loan agreements. The U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is using AI to automatically read, interpret and summarize key information from documents reviewed in bribery investigations. 

Smart contracts are also helpful in automating business relationships. They are tamper-proof and pre-programmed for the signing procedure, dramatically decreasing the number of business hiccups during contracting. The time of the tech-savvy lawyers has come, and the firms with the deepest technical knowledge and combination of skills will become forerunners of the profession. 

The human factor 

Foretelling the future was attributed to Hollywood studios and sci-fi writers for a long time. Now it has become a matter of pure business strategy – and changing times affect corporate culture and HR priorities. Future-gazing legal services providers should put more emphasis on training, coaching and even promoting young experts to management positions. Law firms may even want to consider employing an in-house “future gazer” who might give a valuable insight into the coming trends.

Disruption or innovation?  

Innovations that create new markets and displace established market-leading service providers are frequently stigmatized as being “disruptive”. Indeed, these technologies sometimes may use loopholes and create uneven playing fields to find alternative – but often more customer-friendly – solutions. Whilst it is more comfortable to label certain technologies disruptive, real future gazers agree that technologies can backfire only in the hands of unprepared decision makers. New technologies definitely demand a different kind of mentality from market players who want to keep up.

Busy buzzwords

VR/AR, ICO, IoT: buzzwords are tending to dominate business jargon again. They are as vivid a part of almost every presentation as “convergence” was ten years ago. That word was literally everywhere but the expression lost its dynamic. To avoid sharing its fate, companies must not only use buzzwords to impress clients but utilize their actual meaning effectively in legal tech.

Strategies and outcomes for the legal industry

The definition of “risk” has definitely changed. “Risk” used to mean doing something new or adopting a new technology. Now, “risk” means standing still and being overtaken. Legal professionals need to embrace technology-led innovation, no matter how different it may be, and set themselves up to be agile and able to respond to changing market conditions.

There are exciting technological advances in both the business and legal world, which is not only enhancing the ways legal departments work, but also importantly improving the way law firms deliver services to clients. Some people even regard them as a way of making lawyers unnecessary, as a paperbacked memory of the past. They may be wrong. Technology goes hand in hand with the legal profession and empowers it, rather than making it redundant. Lawyers and IT professionals should team up more effectively than ever, as it is essential for both professions to gaze into the future. That will provide a “win” for both. 

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