Where would your law firm be in 10 years?

Written by Elizabeth Layeni

December 16, 2020

In recent times, there have been a lot of advances in business model innovation, rapid technological disruptions in all industries, and there will continue to be a gradual shift in the delivery of legal services. As opposed to the ‘traditional’ law firms, collaborations between legal engineers, legal technologists, and legal project managers working together to provide legal services to clients will constitute the future of law firms/lawyers. Agile multidisciplinary teams will partner to deliver empathetic user-centric legal solutions. Delivery of legal solutions will be provided by utilizing both labor and capital/technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to provide solutions within the legal sector. Over the next few years, AI will lead the next stage of transformation within legal service delivery.

So what should your law firm be doing?

In order to survive in the disrupted market, law firms will need to employ people with a range of different set skills. Law firms that do not develop with these technological disruptions will be left behind. Traditional law offices will start to disappear as more people are able to work remotely. Video-conferencing will become the way all court appearances are handled in the future. The law firm of the future will provide its client with the ability, through technological platforms, to continuously monitor progress and receive updates on their matters and working files. Legal bots will become the first port of call for clients, elicit information from clients, help with decisions, and give customized advice and generate documents.

New ways of doing things…

Client transactions will be completed through smart contracts using blockchain technology. Flexible working will also change the legal profession over the next decade. Another area of change will be the way legal research is carried out – a “robot lawyer” which relies on AI to understand search queries put to it in natural language, retrieve the precise passages in precedents that relate to the queries, and rank them based on a scoring of their relevance.

In 10 years…

In the next 10 years, law firms will be in an era of rapid digitization of the legal field and legal services. Routine jobs of junior lawyers will be automated. They will be carried out by computers or outsourced to external providers (this is already in motion by the way). In less sophisticated dispute resolutions, the participation of lawyers will be less and less required. The hierarchical structures of law firms will be flat, and not a pyramid. Law firms/lawyers that do not acquire a number of skills coming from the worlds of management and engineering have a high probability of failing in their role. 

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